MacBook Pro w/ Retina Owners Limited to Safari: There’s No Browser Like Chrome

Apple forces early MacBook Pro with Retina Display users to use its Safari web browser. Apple’s latest MacBook comes with a gorgeous display, but third-party browsers aren’t optimized for it yet, which means they’re pretty much unusable.

Being forced to use Safari on a MacBook Pro with Retina Display may sound like a ‘First World Problem,” but not being able to run your preferred browser on a machine that costs $2,199 to $3,749 is going to tick a lot of people off.

The New MacBook Pro with Retina Display

(Read: MacBook Pro with Retina Display Review: First Impressions)


The latest MacBook Pro features a Retina Display with an eye-popping resolution of 2,880 x 1,800 pixels. That’s double the previous MacBook Pros’ standard display resolution.


By default, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is set to display text and graphics at the same size as the previous 15″ MacBook Pro. In other words, you don’t actually get to cram 2,880 x 1,800 pixels worth of content onto the new MacBook Pro’s display. Instead, Apple’s quadrupled the pixel density to make text and graphics appear incredibly sharp.

Users can adjust display the MacBook Pro with Retina Display to resolutions of up to 1,920 x 1,050 pixels, which is the same as what you’ll find on the 21.5″ iMac. This means users can see more on the display, but text isn’t as crisp. Apple suggests leaving the display at its default settings, labeled as “Best for Retina Display,” in System Preferences.

Apple's Retina Display Settings

Apple’s Safari browser, OS X and iLife applications all look fantastic on the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. However things are much different when using Google Chrome, which is my preferred browser. Text is so blurry and unreadable that it’s impossible for me to use Chrome on the MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

Why does this matter? Web browsers are many users’ most important application. While Safari has its merits, I feel most at home using Chrome. I’ve set up Chrome Sync so I have a consistent browsing experience across all of my devices. I enjoy a number of Chrome extensions, including many that save me several hours per week. Chrome seems to work better than Safari with Google services, such as Google Docs. As I use the MacBook Pro with Retina Display as my primary machine as I review it, I feel lost without Chrome. It isn’t a perfect browser, but it’s home.

Unfortunately I won’t feel at home on the MacBook Pro with Retina Display until I get to use Chrome. As of now, there’s no telling when Google will update its browser to work properly with Apple’s latest machine. The update can’t come soon enough, but it may be a while since there are very few MacBook Pros with the new displays out in the wild.  Google employees are issued their choice of Lenovo ThinkPads and MacBooks. Perhaps we’ll have to wait until Google’s own employees start getting them instead of the older MacBook Pros.

Apple unveiled the MacBook Pro with Retina Display at WWDC 2012, where it first showed the above promo video.


  1. I don’t think “forces” is necessarily the right term here. Google and Mozilla are welcome to upgrade their browsers to work on the new MacBook Pro.

    I personally prefer Safari over all the other browsers myself, but hopefully, for those who don’t, Chrome and Firefox get updated soon.

    • I certainly respect your browser choice. I don’t have anything against Safari, but my work flow and style requires Chrome to get me through the day efficiently.
      For now, MacBook Pro with Retina Display users are essentially forced to use Safari since the alternatives are virtually unreadable. I’ll take a picture of my display running Chrome so you can see what I mean. It looks like you have a bad glasses prescription…

      • My point is simply that it isn’t Apple forcing people to use Safari on the new MacBook Pro, it’s Google forcing them to by taking their time updating Chrome. That’s all.

  2. Wait … FORCED to use? You make this sound like an Apple problem, rather than a failure of Google to update … and you also sound like you CAN’T use Chrome. Life is full of choices and compromises … but tossing around absolutes is just inaccurate and/or disingenuous … or hit-bait …

    Because let’s be honest – your title is JUST. PLAIN. WRONG. And it is intentionally inflammatory to gain hits. Your title implies an Apple-based browser limitation, which will draw hits. But in reality you are upset because your preferred browser (and mine, for that matter) hasn’t updated to take advantage of the Retina screen.

    So you COULD have chosen a more accurate title like ‘C’Mon Google, Update Chrome to Use the MBP’s Retina Screen’ … but you didn’t.

  3. Michael, sounds like you haven’t spent any time with a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. If you had, you’d know that Chrome is truly unusable on this machine.
    We’re used to getting negative comments like yours whenever we post anything that critisizes Apple. This isn’t the first time you’ve bashed GottaBeMobile, so I’ll take your writing advice with a grain of salt. I guess we can agree to disagree regarding the display and our writing style. I trust my readers will go beyond a headline, which in this case is my opinion, and actually read the article, including this part:

    “Unfortunately I won’t feel at home on the MacBook Pro with Retina Display until I get to use Chrome. As of now, there’s no telling when Google will update its browser to work properly with Apple’s latest machine.”

    • And you’ve had not one, but two people now tell you Chrome’s dev channel has retina support. It has for 2 weeks now. Maybe you should research your articles better?

      • i tried canary and it’s still not as crisp as Safari for text. regular Chrome has just been updated to 20.0.1132.43 2 weeks after the rMBP came out and the retina update did not make it in, so it would seem they haven’t quite figured out how to make it truly take advantage of retina. Even when they announced canary was updated they only said it had “basic high-resolution” support. this would appear to not be a priority for goog. weak.

    • The problem for me is the opening:
      “Apple forces early MacBook Pro with Retina Display users to use its Safari web browser.”

      Apple does no such thing. This is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of fact: Apple does not force you to use Safari, you choose to not run it. Period. I’ve never been to this site before, so this is my intro to the site. Said introduction is an article that starts with an outright lie. It doesn’t matter that at the end you admit that you lied and that really it is that the software you prefer (which I am writing this comment in) doesn’t support a new piece of hardware as well as it could.

      Indeed, one can not even say Google or Firefox force you to use Safari by not having updated to support the new display.

      I expect at a minimum for “News and Reviews” to be factual, and not blatantly false. If this is an indication of the level of quality of the news and reviews one should expect here, then it would certainly indicate this is not a site worth reading.

  4. I am currently using the rMBP with Google’s Chrome Canary browser to write this reply. So far Chrome Canary does everything my other machines with regular Chrome can do with one exception: The Google Voice extension isn’t quite working yet. When you click the extension instead of seeing the pop-up window with your GV text you see straight through it to your desktop below. Beyond that the text looks pretty much identical to Safari and functions the same as old Chrome.

  5. This article was remarkably stupid. It takes talent to write an article so poorly that I feel the need to comment on just that. Other users have pointed out your flat-out lies already, so I’ll just leave this here and move along.

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